Shea nut butter has been used in Africa for many centuries. It is produced from an edible nut of a fruit from The Shea Tree or The Karite. The Tree grows in the western region of Africa - Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and other Savanna Regions of West Africa.
The Fruits of these trees contain a nut. These nuts are processed to create the Shea butter. Women are usually responsible for the processing of Shea butter. These processes include picking the Shea nut fruits, drying, pounding and kneading.
Shea butter has a smooth and soft paste texture and is yellow, whitish or a greenish color depending on how it is processed.
Shea butter has been used for centuries in Africa. It is used to moisturize and protect the skin from sun, wind, heat and salt water. It is known as the most effective skin moisturizer and conditioner because of its high content of non-saponifiable fats including vitamin F. It is an excellent skin moistener and is used for aging skin, eczema and all forms of massage. It is also used to relax the muscles and to treat sprains wounds and colds. The unique formula of Shea nut butter also helps prevent and protect dry skin providing temporal relief from irritation, dryness and wind burned skin.
Shea butter can be used as a hair dressing cream to moisturize a dry scalp and stimulate hair growth. As a hair cream, it helps to hold the hairstyle and lightly relax curls.
Medicinally, Shea nut butter has been studied as an anti-inflammatory tropical cream, being helpful in cases of arthritis (Kerharo), and it contains stigmasterol, which is the sterol known as "the anti-stiffness factor" making it helpful in cases of rheumatism (Hampton). It has additionally been studied as a nasal decongestant by applying it to the inside of the nostrils (Tella). Shea butter is also helpful in cases of eczema and dermatitis and "contains chemical constituents that help to heal bruising and soreness" (Falconi).